’30 Rock’ Recap (Season 6, Episode 11): “Standards and Practices: Meet Jenna’s children and Kenneth Toilet-Hole”
Hot off the heels of last week’s episode, which featured a mock buddy-cop movie starring Tracy and Jenna, this week’s episode wasted no time. The episode opens with Hank (Ken Howard) greeting Jack in the studio and reintroducing him to his grand-daughter, Kaylie (Chloë Moretz). Immediately the strange rivalry between the two of them is rekindled as they take shots at each other. Liz and Jenna enter for the big night—the finale of America’s Kidz Got Singing. Immediately the scene cuts to the aftermath of the singing competition, which turned out to be an enormous failure as all of the child contestants got drunk and vomited on the stage (a brief bit of this is scene replaying in Jack’s office on TV). Hank enters angrily telling Jack he has the FCC to contend with on this one and Jack vows to get to the bottom of it. “Any white male can arrest any other person,” Jack says seriously as Kenneth enters talking about how recent firings have garnered him an office closer to the door in his new department. You might recall from last week that Kenneth was promoted to the standards (censorship) department.
The scene switches to Tracy whining to Liz about his upcoming colonoscopy as Jenna enters and reveals to Liz that she’s been donating her eggs. In an effort to seem less “monstrous” to the eyes of the public Jenna has rounded up her six children all of whom bear a frightening resemblance to her. “Dear God,” Liz exclaims as the title sequence rolls.
The scene cuts to Jack interrogating children as to why they got drunk on the talent show. He puts a doll’s head in a vice grip as a means to making a small girl talk. It’s revealed that Kaylie was responsible for the prior night’s bumble by providing the kids with the beer. Jack gravely states that this has become “Jack V.S. Kaylie Round 2: No Subtitle Necessary.”
Meanwhile, Jenna is meeting with her children prepping them for an appearance on Barbara Walters.
Thanks to Kaylie’s sabotage of the kid’s singing show finale by getting the contestants drunk, the network’s standards have been greatly raised as to what can and cannot be said on television. Kenneth presents Liz with some documents that go on to say the most profane word they’re now allowed to call someone is “Ding Bat.”
In an effort to prepare himself for changing times, Jack reveals that he’s hired a “Kato” to attack him at random in his house to keep his reflexes quick. Jack tells Liz that Kaylie is his nemesis (Liz’s is auto-correct). He tricks Kaylie into opening the door of her hotel room by imitating the voice of her father Hank and confronts her about sabotaging the children’s competition. Kaylie tells Jack that she sabotaged the competition because she fears if she goes home she’ll have to meet with the principal and get expelled from her school. In a quick rant, Kaylie reveals she violated her high school friends’ privacy on the Internet and insulting them on the fictional equivalent of Facebook. Kaylie begins to cry about how her parents are missing and Jack realizes he has to pretend to be her father despite his dislike for her and go to a parent-teacher conference to prevent her “life from being over.”
Jenna prepares for her humanizing public appearance on Barbara Walters’ show with her children. All of her children but one daughter (Judy) are pretty, perfect blondes. Jenna excludes Judy from the interview because she doesn’t resemble her. It turns out as the episode progresses, that it’s Jenna’s children who are ashamed of her. She sadly resigns to not appear on Barbara Walters.
As Liz and Kenneth continue to clash over the new standards, Kenneth is imposing in his new position. Liz threatens Kenneth that she’s going to get Tracy to say something inappropriate on live television. In an act of desperation, Liz is relegated to using the men’s bathroom. What follows is the most endearing and hilarious scene of the entire episode. Kenneth, sitting in an adjacent stall to Liz (who he believes to be a fellow man) pours his heart out about the pressures of his new job title and how all he wants is for Liz Lemon to respect him. He feels that if he can’t gain her respect, he can’t possibly gain the respect of “Jewish Studio Executives.” Liz introduces herself as “Kenneth Toilet Hole.” Later, Liz rushes to Kenneth and tells him that she does in fact respect him and that herself, Kenneth and “Kenneth Toilet Hole” should all go get dinner sometime.
The scene cuts to Kaylie and Jack facing the principal of Kaylie’s high school. In an unexpected turn of events, Jack reveals to the principal (or teacher? It’s unclear) that he’s Kaylie’s nemesis and he wishes for her to be expelled, which the principal promptly does by way of rubber stamp.
Jenna runs up to Liz with smeared makeup, crying about her children excluding her. Liz tells her maybe she should have treated Judy better, so Jenna decides to forgo her on-air duties and leaves to get lunch with Judy. All hell breaks loose as Liz is forced to chase after Jenna with one minute to air, and Tracy prepares to go live on television with “raunchy stand up” that Liz had requested him to do before she made amends with Kenneth. Liz runs into Jack and begs for his help, but he realizes that Kaylie WANTED him to get her expelled and he played right into her hands. Liz tells Kenneth that Tracy is going to curse on air and Kenneth runs to live censor the stand-up. Kenneth does this so perfectly that the head of the standards department, Felcher, congratulates him on a job well done and then flips off everyone because no one can censor him.
Jack and Kaylie have another meeting of the minds in Jack’s office. They spar with each other back and forth verbally, but eventually Jack wins out, only to be attacked by his hired-attacker, Kato.
The end tag is a dinner meeting with Liz Lemon, Kenneth Toilet-Hole (Liz wearing a red moustache) and Kenneth. Liz and her alter ego keep running back and forth to the bathroom, somehow managing to confuse Kenneth.
I found the episode to be more interesting than last week’s, and a power clash between Kenneth and Liz was an interesting dynamic that the show has never explored before. On a similar note, it was fun to see Jack meet his intellectual rival in the form of a teenage girl, and it’s always great to see Moretz tackling comedic roles (she’s quite different here than in Hugo). As the season progresses, I’m sure Kenneth will continue to be in the spotlight with his new powerful job position.
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